The holidays can be challenging or magical for all types of relationships. Whether it be those family members we see twice a year, or our beloved live-in partners, this time of the year our relationship “triggers” for suffering may be as raw and on-the-surface as those crystalline snowflakes powder-coating a still lake.
Staying in peaceful balance and out of the dangerous, frozen waters of conflict requires a light and mindful approach.
As yogis with expanded awareness, we are always at choice. We can react or we can respond. Yet, there is a third choice. Being present and pro-active in our communication can sweeten troubled waters, leaving both you and your loved ones feeling respected, full of dignity and delighted to spend time around each other.
Below are 3 simple practices to deepen your relationships this Holiday Season.
1. Stop interrupting. Start noticing how often you may be finishing others’ sentences for them. This can look like interjecting your own stories or turning the conversation around to focus on yourself. Not only is this exhausting for you (constantly formulating responses in your own mind), this behavior can be deflating to those around you. It is disheartening to be sharing a story only to be interrupted and “blocked” by another’s agenda. Instead, stop, close your lips, take a deep breath, nod your head, offer some “mm hmmms,” and listen attentively as others open up. Those around you will feel interesting, cared for by you and more willing to engage in the future.
2. Allow others to have their glory. Being genuinely happy for another’s success is a rich and meaningful practice. The human mind wants to compare and contrast our lives and accomplishments with others, often rating ourselves as “better than,” or “less than” people we care about. This is a normal reaction of the ego. Yet, this can create a dynamic of competition or withholding. Put this on for size; when a loved one shares a success, congratulate them joyfully and offer the phrases, “Tell me more,” and “What else?” then listen intently. This creates a vacuum for joy within you. As well, others will return the exuberance when you are sharing your personal glories.
3. Do something kind for someone and don’t tell a soul. What does this have to do with the development of better relationships, you may ask? When we offer a kindness, a gesture of good will, quite often there’s a knee jerk tendency to tell others about it. The yoga of relationships would have you ask where this impulse is coming from. Being honest with yourself, ask if this is boasting in order to receive approval, or blowing up of your own ego in order to look good for others. This is deep work. When we can do a good act in the world and hold it only for ourselves, self-respect is cultivated, and a quiet confidence in our own good and true nature. From there, being kind and good to others is easy. Your vibration will be one of grace and all will benefit from your good acts, whether they know it or not.
Your relationships on yoga require as much patience and understanding as your own asana practice. Your instructor guides you to have patience when entering and exiting a wheel pose, to offer your hips compassion when deepening into pigeon pose. Not easy! Yet, the richness of stretching yourself and prancing with mindfulness over the landmines of the past may leave you both feeling rewarded, heard, understood and in connection. Who doesn’t want that?!
The world needs the beautiful expression of your personal yoga.
Happy relating, my friends.